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People Are Corrupt !

November 15
14:57 2019

People Are Corrupt !

“We have a way in this country as well where we spend a lot of money and we don’t get the bang for our buck. That’s the thing. And they always talk about corruption and when they talk about corruption they talk about the politicians of course. Me and you, mayor. But corruption goes beyond that. You know why politicians are corrupt by the way and I don’t have problem saying it. Yes there is a lot of corruption. They are corrupted because the people are corrupted too.”
— Hon. Patrick Faber, November 5, 2019

“Fishes don’t swim on land! Look around where you are, do you see any fishes swimming around? Bet not. You know why fishes don’t swim on land? Because the environment on land is not supportive of marine life. “Every day we complain about our corrupt politicians but the fact of the matter is that WE have created the environment that attracts the kind of politicians we have. Politicians come and politicians go but the PEOPLE remain.” — Major Lloyd Jones, Letter to the Editor, Amandala, Saturday, December 2, 2017.

At the University of the West Indies 2019 Country Conference, the Deputy Prime Minister of Belize publicly declared that our politicians are corrupt because the people of Belize are corrupt. The Deputy Prime Minister would go on to take a flogging for uttering those words but the Honourable Patrick Faber was not telling a lie.

What the Hon. Patrick Faber was saying to us is that “fishes don’t swim on land.” He was saying to us, with great candour, that it is we the people who have created the environment in which these corrupt politicians thrive. He was saying to us that, if it is the people who created the environment for corruption to thrive, then it is we the people who must take action to fix it.

Recently we saw glaring examples of how corrupt we are when the voters list was challenged in the Courts. Hundreds of people corruptly registered at addresses where they know they do not live. In doing so, they acted in the service of their corrupt political bosses but against our democracy.

The Prime Minister would go on to explain this practice away; he too said that there is nothing we can do to correct such corrupt behaviour because both parties do it. Imagine that!

It appears to me that more and more of us have come to accept the fact that “all politicians will thief.” We seem to have also accepted that there is nothing we can do about it so therefore we might as well get something if we can. Our approach to corruption therefore is since we can’t beat it we might as well profit from it.

It is this mindset that has caused many of us to barter with our votes. Since we accept that by giving a politician our vote the politician will become rich with our tax dollars, what harm can it do to ask the politician for a load of sand, or a ham, or a school bag? What harm can it do to ask him for $100 in exchange for your vote? These actions are not viewed as corruption but that is exactly what it is.
The examples above of course are examples of the behaviour of the poorer class of voters but dishonesty is not a function of poverty. There are many poor people who are people of the highest integrity and there are many rich people whose integrity is sieve-like (Sanctuary Bay exposed many such people).

My reasons for pointing out the corrupt behaviour of the poor is twofold (1) there are many more poor people than there are rich people so the cumulative effect of their corruption is greater; and (2) because it is the poor who are most impacted by corruption at the top it makes better sense for them to help root it out.

Faber’s declaration was an incredible one especially coming from such a ranking Belizean politician. Faber like everybody who has offered themselves for political office knows of the corrupt behaviour of the 21st century Belizean voter. Faber was not talking out of his head on November 5th, he was telling us of his experience.

The Belizean voter puts those seeking political office through some serious paces which, apart from sometimes outright disrespect, often include an invitation to purchase votes. This is done either in cash or in kind. Some say that you can never come to political office in Belize if you are not willing to pay for votes. If this is so, who is at fault here? The voter who offers his vote for sale or the politician who accepts such an offer?

My question to the Hon. Patrick Faber is therefore this: if the leaders are corrupt and the people are corrupt, upon whose shoulders fall the responsibility to address corruption?

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